“If nature proved God clearly, we would not have to search for Him with all our heart.”---Peter Kreeft
“[The search for meaning] ...is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” ---Walker Percy
“Theirs is an endless road, a hopeless maze, who seek for goods before they seek for God.” --St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Before 1993 when I became more fully aware of Christ in my life (that is, who He is and who I am in Him), I actively and vigorously pursued exhibition opportunities across the country, east and west. I coveted, sought after, and in some cases, received top-notch gallery representation for my work. For a decade or more (through the 80's), I chased after those opportunities relentlessly in the major metropolitan areas and art centers on the east coast and elsewhere. I sought one-man exhibitions and group shows at museums and galleries. I entered and participated in regional and national painting and drawing competitions. I painted. I photographed, prepared and sent slides... (remember slides?)... of my work to countless galleries. I wrote letters, pounded the pavement, knocked on doors, followed up leads, sought “art reps”.... and painted some more.
Self-promotion and personal success was the name of my game.
In an ultimately just universe, when one uses a God-given ability or talent to call attention to and promote oneself, the wheels will sooner or later, come off the wagon. When one's spiritual priorities are so drastically disordered, God will find a way to “rein in” the wayward soul. And without going into detail here, that is exactly what happened in my case....
It is all too easy for us to be deceived by the illusion, delusion and lure of chasing after false promises of personal success especially when that success is at the expense of those things that are truly important in life. (After all, our idols rarely look like the wood-carved, metal-forged or stone-fashioned figures and statues of antiquity. These days, our “gods” mostly come in much more subtle garb than that!)
But there is something within each of us that desperately longs for recognition, approval, acceptance, comfort and security. We do long to know and experience that something that is missing in our lives, that something that would give our lives ultimate meaning, value and worth.
Bottom line: we genuinely long to be truly loved.
That internal longing within each of us is very real and quite authentic. And that fact ought to be for us a persistent and profound reminder that...yes!...there really is something more that calls to each heart and soul. There really is something more to be searched for and to be found, something more that can fulfill our longing and give us joy and rest and peace and satisfaction (what the ancient Hebrews called “shalom”).
We can sense the call because the call is real. And “the call” manifests itself in the human heart initially as wonder. .
I am persuaded that this persistent and universal longing,.... this sense of wonder... is what causes the artist in all of us to stir. More importantly, I am also convinced that this same sense of nagging incompleteness is the reason all of humankind...from Boston to Borneo...is moved toward religion and worship. Indeed, it is from this need, this universally detected and profound longing, that all of man's religions and philosophies spring. Regardless of his culture, his time in history, his degree of sophistication or cerebral “advancement”, man has desperately tried to answer the question “Why?”.... the “why of wonder”.
He has tried to provide for himself this spiritual “missing link”.
In this regard, we are not unlike incomplete (or spoiled) canvasses on a desperate Self-help mission to fill in the blank spaces and “fix” ourselves.
Someone once observed that all the religions of the world are “...eloquent and pathetic evidence of man's insatiable hunger for God” and that “...”...the faiths that men [have] invented [have] left their hearts eased, yet still aching...”
Our efforts ...however noble or well-intentioned... to reach up and pull God down so that we may be fixed and set aright will always fall short.
How we attempt to alleviate this innate and universal human longing, how we seek to relieve this existential aching, is life's ultimate quest and call. It is mankind's most pressing existential need. The awareness of this universal spiritual hunger for meaning and peace within us is what makes human beings unique among all the creatures of the earth. And the inner longing manifests itself first in awe and wonder.
Mankind has been spiritually equipped to detect and respond to this universal , existential hunger of the heart . We are, apparently designed... (intelligently designed, I would contend)... in such a way that we are aware of our own “incompleteness” just as we are also designed to be aware that there is something about death that is disturbing, inopportune, unwelcome and (perhaps) even unnatural. And so we strive to understand that which we sense is missing and/or disordered.
“On hearing this Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” --- (Matthew 9: 12, 13)
“The love of wisdom begins in wonder.”
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” ---Proverbs 9:10
“Why, I Wonder...”
Why, I wonder, do the heavens
Seem to sing each night anew?
And I wonder at their splendor
And if you do wonder, too?
Why, I wonder, do we wonder....
When we search the starry night.
Why, I wonder, do we wonder
Why the darkness flees the Light.
Why, I wonder, do we hunger...
Why, I wonder, do we sigh?
Why, I wonder, do we wonder
When we wonder why we die?
Why, I wonder, do we wonder
At the wonder of the Light....?
Why, I wonder, why we'd wonder
Why there's Wrong and why there's Right?
Do you wonder, why we wonder
When we wonder what is True?
Why, I wonder, do we question...?
Don't you wonder why we do?
Why, I wonder, why there's Wonder!?
Wonder what that's all about!?
Then I wonder at the Wonder
Of true Truth expelling Doubt.
Wonder says: “You're onto Something!”
And I wonder why that's so....?
What's that “something”?
Why this hunger?
Wonder why we long to know?
“The closer we are to God, to Divine attributes-such as absolute Truth, Goodness and Beauty-the more we wonder. When we separate ourselves from Truth, Goodness and Beauty, we lose wonder and become cynical.” -- Peter Kreeft
“Ideas lead to idols; only wondering leads to knowing.” --St. Gregory of Nyssa